For the past year or so, ESG and DEI have been under political attack at federal and state levels. I’ve written about this before and others have commented on how it may – or may not – actually impact companies. But things have hit a new fever pitch of concern recently. Emblematic of this change: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink (one-time loud and proud champion of the term “ESG”) announced “I don’t use the word ESG any more, because it’s been entirely weaponised … by the far left and weaponised by the far right.”
ESG and DEI professionals are feeling caught between pro- and anti-ESG/DEI pressures. In contrast to 18-24 months ago when companies were scrambling to increase staff and hire high-salary leaders in the space, ESG and DEI staff are honestly worried about their future. If you are in this boat, an OpEd in Bloomberg last week may give you a bit of comfort. The article points out that
“Politicians like DeSantis and Abbott have painted [DEI] policies as politically motivated perversions of business practices. But that’s generally not how corporate America sees them — and most voters don’t seem particularly bothered by them, either. A poll conducted in July by the New York Times and Siena College suggests Republican primary voters care much more about law and order and immigration… Republican candidates looking for a winning message should look elsewhere. ASAP.”
I agree. Yes, there are businesses going through layoffs at the moment, and ESG/sustainability/DEI tend to be some of the first functions targeted. But you are best served by ignoring the political developments and rhetoric and just focusing on executing your job. If you need ideas for demonstrating to executives the actual business value of your efforts, this Guidebook can help, as well this blog from last year.